This website brings together texts about psychology, Psychoanalysis, and Psychotherapy.
What are our theories of the psyche and the human subject, and how do we apply them?
The science of psychology emerged in the late 19th century, and began to investigate mental states, perception, cognition, emotion, memory, thought, and social behavior.
As a science that studies human behavior and its underlying reasons, psychology also has strong applications for the design of social institutions like schools or hospitals. It became a branch of medicine through the emerging fields of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, and psychiatry.
Mind and Brain
Psychology is the science of the mind, but it begins with the brain. The human brain is the most complex organ known to us. It is the source of all thought and behavior. The average number of neurons in the brain is around 100 billion. The total number of synapses (Connections between neurons) in the cerebral cortex is between 60 and 240 trillion, or 1012 connections.
How do psychologists study the mind? We are still at the beginning of our attempts to study the brain directly, and to make connections between brain science and psychology. We cannot see someone thinking. Nor can we directly observe their emotions, memories, perceptions or dreams. But we can study human behavior, which is the raw data of psychology. Human behavior includes, of course, speech and verbal behavior as well. We can use this as clues to the workings of the mind. Although we cannot observe the mind directly, everything we do, think, feel and say is determined by the functioning of the mind, and we can draw conclusions about its functioning based on observation of human behavior.
Psychology is an old discipline; but the scientific study of the psyche began only in the late 19th century, when the German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) opened the first experimental psychology lab in Leipzig in 1879. Since then, we have already learned an enormous amount about the relationship between brain, mind and behavior.
Branches of psychology
The science of psychology is located at the intersection of different disciplines, including biology, medicine, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and artificial intelligence (AI). For example, neuro-psychology is allied with biology, since the aim is to map different areas of the brain and explain how brain functions connect with psychological functions like memory or language. Other branches of psychology are more closely connected with medicine. Clinical psychologists map out the forms of psycho-pathology, and try to alleviate the suffering caused by mental disorders. Attempts to explain why humans think and behave the way they do gives rise to fields of psychology or its applications. The different disciplines of psychology are wide-ranging. They include:
Clinical psychology ~ Cognitive psychology: memory and intelligence ~ Developmental psychology ~ Evolutionary psychology ~ Forensic psychology ~ Health psychology ~ Neuropsychology ~ Occupational psychology ~ Social psychology
What all these different approaches to psychology have in common is a desire to explain the behavior of individuals based on the workings of the mind. Psychology exists at the intersection of philosophy and the empirical study of behavior, but it often models itself after the natural sciences, and it therefore tries to apply scientific methodologies. Psychologists conduct their research through observation and experiment, and analyze the findings with statistical techniques that help them identify important new insights.
Psychology can be characterized by a few methods like observation, introspection, structured interviews, phenomenological methods, descriptive categorizations, or empirical analysis of behavior. In addition to these methods, there is a whole range of potential applications, ranging from sport, political psychology, economic behavior, sexuality, and so on. This grid, methods/fields of application, creates a colorful discipline that is still emerging and searching for a unity within itself.